Many areas of Cutler Bay, especially along Old Cutler Road, have undergone county road refurbishing and the reconstruction of bike paths, of which segments were damaged or missing, making the town more accessible and safe for those on two wheels.
Now a different concern has been raised and the topic will be part of upcoming public meetings where input from all residents will be invited. Renee Y. Espinosa, a resident and teacher, is worried about the danger posed to bicyclists and others by the behavior of some in large groups on Saturday mornings.
“I am probably one of those overly patient motorists that give the bicyclists more than enough room and time to get where they need to be,” Espinosa said in an recent email. “As a runner myself, I understand the zone one gets in while exercising.”
Espinosa then described the first of two situations that raised concerns for her.
“On Apr. 16 at approximately 8:45 a.m. while traveling south on 87th Avenue, I was following a group of about 30 cyclists,” Espinosa said. “I followed behind the group at a safe distance and slowed down as I approached the intersection of 87th and Old Cutler where I was going to take a left [east]. Those of us traveling on 87th had a green light. On the other side of 87th Avenue was a motorist waiting to take a left hand turn [west] onto Old Cutler as well.
“We both waited as the cyclists went through the intersection. As we both proceeded to make our left hand turns onto Old Cutler Road, the light still green, in opposite directions, much to my surprise a group of cyclists traveling west on Old Cutler Road came through the intersection to join the first group making a left hand turn on a red light onto 87th Avenue,” Espinosa continued.
“The other vehicle and myself were already half way into the intersection and our light was still green. These cyclists were not only incredibly rude, but were not observing standard traffic laws which say one is to stop on a red light.”
She then described another incident on the following Saturday morning, Apr. 23, in which she was starting across the intersection of 87th Avenue and 212th Street on a green light and had to slam on her brakes to avoid hitting a group of cyclists that went straight across the intersection on a red light without stopping or even slowing down. The fact that she had her five children in the van with her added greatly to her concerns.
“Fortunately, by the grace of God, no one got hurt,” Espinosa said. “The cyclists at the front of the pack made a quick circle round, chuckling as if enjoying the rush of the incident. Neither I, nor my children, found anything at all humorous about it.”
Town Councilmember Peggy Bell, when contacted, said that although she only rides once or twice a year, she spoke to some of the “professional riders,” those who generally wear spandex cycling suits.
“It is felt by some that they cannot stop as readily as a car, as they may pile up,” said Bell. “This is why they go through the light while in a pack. I do understand this. That said — it is the law. They must obey the same traffic signs and lights as a car.”
Bell confirmed that plans are already in the works to address this and many related issues and that meetings will be announced in the next few months.
“Our town is currently studying and producing a pedestrian/bicycling master plan for the town,” Bell said. “We will soon have public meetings where these issues will be addressed.
“The Parks and Recreation Citizen Advisory Committee, of which I am council liaison, recently attended an informational session headed by our Public Works director and our transportation consultant. At that meeting we recommended they add an educational component, to inform residents of the laws and other issues, such as routes. We have a great opportunity to establish a walkable town that fairly includes bicycle riders and automobile drivers in the mix.”